Carry on being curious

8 February 2023
Winter 2023

The College’s Clinical Editor, Jane Veys MCOptom, on the value of curiosity in the clinical world.

Ever since I dissected a pig’s eye in school biology lessons, the wonders of the ocular structure have never ceased to fascinate me. “The most important square inch in the human body,” one enthusiastic lecturer claimed. My wonder and awe of this amazing organ of sight has not waned.

The wonders of the cornea in particular. How can such a complex, multilayer cellular structure be transparent? How can such a small, thin, sensitive tissue be so powerful? 43D! How amazing that a new layer or sub-layer has been discovered (and debated) within the last decade. These facts and more are covered in our article – a great read to remind yourself of what you learned long ago, and to discover how innovative technology, such as in vivo confocal microscopy, can aid our understanding of the corneal nerve fibre architecture in health and disease. 

As technology continues to advance, I am curious to know what the next ocular phenomenon will be uncovered.

Curiosity is a quality that should be valued in the clinical world. It drives learning and the exchange of ideas in an ever-changing field and leads us to ask questions, explore and collaborate. Curiosity can help us embrace new technology, and above all allow us to get to know our patients. 

Understanding our patients is critical to successful clinical outcomes. Our cover feature explores the emerging concept of treatment burden, how it can affect patients’ adherence to medication and attending ongoing appointments, and is linked to worse medical outcomes (Alsadah et al, 2022). A respectful and healthy level of curiosity is fundamental to understanding each patient’s unique experience of their refractive correction and/or eye disease, and the impact on their lives.

Curiosity is a quality that should be valued in the clinical world

The dictionary defines curiosity as “an eager desire to know or learn about something”. The word comes from the Latin cura meaning “to take care of”. Dissecting the etymology helps us realise that the benefits of being curious extend beyond patient outcomes, to potentially advancing our own career and finding a healthy work/life balance.

Taking care of our own careers and helping shape the future profession can be hugely rewarding. “I got involved out of curiosity,” Farra Raqib MCOptom answered when asked why she became involved in her local optical committee. Our article asks a number of optometrists at all stages of their career how they got involved in the profession outside of the consulting room, and the rewards they reaped as a result. So what kind of difference will you make?

As an optometrist, enjoy being curious – continue to wonder, question and reflect for the benefit of your patients and yourselves. Curiosity has led to inventions, sight- and life-saving devices, solved world problems (and boy do we need that now!) and so much more. Potentially, there is an Albert Einstein in all of us. In his own words: “I have no special talent – I am only passionately curious.”

Jane Veys MSc MCOptom FIACLE

Jane has been involved in optometry for over 30 years and is an experienced educator, facilitator and scientific writer. She has published more than 50 articles, authored a leading contact lens textbook and created industry leading digital education series.

Image credit | Caroline Andrieu

Related further reading

The College and Eye Research Group Oxford are collaborating to bring you a webinar on Monday 24 June, on how optometrists can get involved in research.

We have partnered with Ulster University to develop a series of learning modules to support optometrists who want to undertake research, from developing their understanding of research to acquiring the necessary skills.

The College has provided key information to help you identify cases and guidance on managing circumstances that are relevant to optometry practices.